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Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma

University of Oklahoma

Returning Upland: The World of René Char's Poetry
Author(s): I. I.
Source: World Literature Today, Vol. 51, No. 3, Focus on French Poet René Char (Summer,
1977), pp. 349-350
Published by: Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma
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Buis-les-Baronnies. to live to tell the story and finally to settle there. But what about Char and his relationto philosophers. Char celebratesthis summer his 70th birthday. In this issue World LiteratureToday (formerly Boo\s Abroad) is happy to pay tribute to one of the major figures in world literature today. ancient land of multiple cultures carries Char's poetry. Char has in turn attracted philosophers. Lourmarin. Jacques Villon. An elemental. Yet all this holds true for Rene Char. Charbonnier. Vieira da Silva. the cosmic drama of Char's poetry was destined to be enacted in this Provencal setting close to the Sorgue River.Dali. de Stael. Friendship especiallywith paintersand sculptorswhom he has called his "substantialallies. In such a work landscape. Fernandez. There are the mountain peaks and ranges addressed in many a poem: Montmirail. Martin Heidegger visited him repeatedly and participatedin the three seminars held at Le Thor near L'Isle.8. in which he directed operations from the mountainous region near his own birthplace. This amazing record was visually dramatized in the "ExpositionRene Char"organized in 1971 by the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris and the Maeght Foundation. aphorists such as Heraclitus and Nietzsche? Two articles in our issue deal with this topic. 21 Oct 2013 15:42:27 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions ." A partial list of artists who have illustratedChar'spoetry follows : Arp. the bull and the viper. against an enemy in wartime. After the war Char settled at "Les Busclats"in L'Isle-sur-Sorgue. Major poets are not unlike major novelists in that both createtheir own worlds and chart their own countries of the imagination. arms in hand. orioles and swifts.dedicating himself entirelyto poetry.these are some of the reasons explaining the fascination he has exerted on several generations of readers. Fortunate the writer who succeeds in making his own native city or province into the hub of such a world. Giacometti.Kandinsky. and that is Char's talent for friendship. The native flora and fauna are evoked equallylovingly: lichens and saxifrage. R. Ventoux. From 1929to 1934he was a member of the surrealist circle around Andre Breton. Zao Wou-ki. Friendship bound him to Paul Eluard. Henri Laurens.30 on Mon. Venasque. Born in L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. Lascaux. In our century of violent outer and inner displacementssuch miraculous equivalences seem to belong to a mythical golden age. place-names such as Le Thor.The concentratedpoetic notes from these war experiences were published in 1946 as Feuillets d'Hypnos {Leaves of Hypnos). biography.P. Matisse. The catalogue of this exhibit and Char's own Le monde de Vartnest pas le monde du pardon (Maeght. an author considered by many critics the greatest living French poet. Char(1974) By an interesting coincidence. the lost Roman town of Aerea.Petrarch'splace of exile. Picasso. There is never any doubt where he startsout from and whither he returns.107. the lark and the trout. Even rarerthe case for such a writerto defend his native region. Braque. This was memorably demonstrated during the Nazi occupation when Char became Captain "Alexandre" in the resistancemovement. Joseph Sima. the underground maquis. Surrealism enriched his poetic vision but without quenching his independent spirit. Char the engaged poet in word and deed. "Temoignages de publication " grandeur (Testimonials of Greatness). Char and surrealism. Luberon. L. Thouzon. Miro. There is a rapprochement This content downloaded from 143. the year 1927 witnessed the beginning of Rene Char's poetic career with the of his first poem.Yet there is still another facet which needs to be stressed. poetry overlap to a degree that makes their separationimpossible.lavenderand lily of the valley.not far from Fontaine de Vaucluse. Vaucluse. a truly vast archipelagoof poems which contains ample proof of greatness. Paris 1974) are the best introduction into this aspect of the poet's life work. Paris could attract him but temporarily.and his work spansa half-century of poetry.Focus on Rene Char Returning Upland: The World of Rene Char's Poetry A humanmeteorhas the earth for honey. They made him instantly famous. Ghika. Oklahoma. Brauner. in the Parisian journalLa Revue Nouvelle and the launching of Boo\s Abroad in Norman. They have interpretedhim and he has written about them. Char the Provencal poet and his sense of place. Wilfredo Lam. Max Ernst. V.

1951. Reverdy.107.Jaccottet.Milosz. see BA 47:4.J.(MM) Recherche de la base et du sommet. was responsiblefor the artistic excellence of many of these photographs.Gallimard. The Turco-Swedish poet-photographer Lutfi Ozkok. comp.1967. May our effortsbring more readersto Char's poetry! It is a "Library on Fire" without one book's being burned. 1964.1967. pp. To all of them I expressmy warmest thanks.Mary Ann Caws &JonathanGriffin.. light incessantlyrenewed. 21 Oct 2013 15:42:27 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .(LM) Trois coups sous les arbres. (PPC) Commune presence. 1973.Laforgue. Le poeme pulverise. The enthusiastic cham- pioning of his work by the late Estonian critic Alexander Aspel (1908-1975. Apollinaire. Perse. 1971. & eds.several previously unpublishedplaced generously at our disposal by Rene Char himself. Certain works deserve that we seize every opportunityto expressthe gratitude we owe them. Mary Ann Caws's advice has been invaluable and her collaborationstruly manifold. which for the last 150 years has given so many fertile impulses and has set an example of sophisticatedperfection to poets around the world.. he is also the co-translatorof a selection of Char's poems into Swedish. The place of publication for French titles is Paris. many of them containing previously published works. pp. Two decades later Mary Ann Caws has made another effort to introduce this complex original poet with her twin volumes of criticism and translations: The Presence of Rene Charand Poems of Rene Char (with JonathanGriffin). (LH) Aromates chasseurs. 1976. 1974.Lecuire Modern French poetry is an inexhaustible lode. pp. The decision to dedicate an issue to him was made later that year. Valery.(LA) Hypnos Waging: Poetry and Prose. a dozen other names come to mind at once : Nerval. Rimbaud. JacksonMathews. No sooner are these names set down than several others ask to be considered too: Corbiere. 1970. Corti.8.(SE) Lettera atnorosa. I have elsewhere describedmy first personalmeeting with the poet on 1 May 1975 (see BA 50:1. followed by Moulin premier. followed by La parole en archipel. 1975. Char ceased to be a famous name for me and became a living presence around 1965. unless otherwise indicated. The list is an augmented version of that found in Mary Ann Caws's book The Presence of Rene Char (Princeton University Press. Lautreamont.Liberte (Montreal) in 1968and L'Herne (Paris) in 1971. are taken from the following volumes.Gallimard. Michaux. (HW) Poemes et proses choisis. N. (RBS) Le nu perdu. GLM.(PRC) This content downloaded from 143." /.but one can at least determine his place.1953. Eluard. Grossman. Another way of presentingChar'sachievementwould be to see him as an original link in the central tradition of modern French poetry. 1969.(SP) Poems of Rene Char.(NP) La nuit talismanique. Besides being the director of a film on Char. 1972. Gallimard. To quote from Camus's tribute published in the collected edition of Char'spoems in German: "One cannot do justice on a few pages to a poet like Rene Char. Gallimard. Gallimard. This is not tantamount to saying that all the greatest modern poets are necessarilyFrench. 1.30 on Mon. (AC) (First version in Argile. even when we cannot do justice to all their subtleties. Although ours is the first Char issue in English.Skira. Gallimard. no.) Sur la poisie. unless otherwise specified. Char was presented to English readers back in 1956 with the selectedvolume Hypnos Waging. 1957. (CP) Retouramont. Without any claims to completenessor finality.Gallimard. Char.Gallimard. 1974.1966. Gallimard./. Ponge. 1976).1972. 199-203). or Man Reconciled" appeared soon after I assumed the editorship of this journal (see BA 42:2.(RA) Fureur et mystere. 1956.. Princeton University Press. (TC) Le marteau sans maitre. only that their literature shows a uniquely consistent development from Baudelaireto Bonnefoy.Fontaine. 1947. Cid Corman. & tr. Jouve. trs. for those in English. a longtime collaborator of this journal. it was preceded by three specialissues in French : L'Arc ( Aix-en-Provence) dedicated an issue to him in 1963. both from Princeton University Press. List of Abbreviations Quotations from Char's poetry.Mallarme. 640-42 on him) helped in no small measure to open up Char's world for me. Princeton.. Paulene Aspel's concentratedessay "The Poetry of Rene Char.350 WORLD LITERATURE TODAY of poetry with philosophy and painting in the writing of Char. New York. Gallimard. Random House.(PP) Le soleil des eaux. tr.(FM) Les matinaux.(NT) Leaves of Hypnos. The illustrations in our issue were selected from photographs. 78-79).Gallimard.